Reacting to the poll that gave Trump a seven point lead, ABC ‘This Week’ host George Stephanopoulos noted one surprising result: ‘You’ve got one in five people who say they believe President Trump should face criminal charges, but they would still vote for him.” I mentioned to Chad that this eerily echoes Trump’s own claim back in 2016, that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
Addressing Chad I pointed out that “the US, and especially the Republican-conservative side, is noted for its respect for law and order. It’s a nation of lawyers whose Bible in its national religion is the Constitution. How can you correlate this supposed deep respect for the law and the willingness to elect a convicted or even declared criminal to the highest office in the land?”
For a moment, I felt as though Chad was stumped. But it didn’t take long for the usual series of paragraphs to emerge.
“This is a complex question with no simple answer. One possible explanation is that voters may prioritize other factors over a candidate’s criminal history when casting their ballots, such as policy positions or personal charisma. Additionally, it’s important to note that not all voters may view a candidate’s legal issues as disqualifying, especially if they believe the charges are politically motivated or exaggerated.
Furthermore, it’s worth acknowledging that American politics has become increasingly polarized in recent years, with many voters identifying more strongly with their party or ideology than with any individual candidate. In this context, a candidate’s criminal record may matter less to some voters than their partisan affiliation or ideological alignment.
It’s also worth noting that the justice system in the US, like in any country, is not infallible. Some voters may question the legitimacy of criminal charges against a candidate or believe that the punishment does not fit the crime.
In short, there are a variety of factors that may influence voters’ willingness to support a candidate with a criminal history, and it’s not always easy to reconcile these attitudes with a supposed respect for the rule of law.”
“Chad, I hope you don’t take offense when I point out that in your comprehensive wisdom, you seem to be contradicting yourself, at least in what applies to Trump. You talk about voters neglecting to exercise their moral judgment due to party loyalty. But Trump has never really played on party loyalty. He challenged his party, which has traditionally been as uncomfortable with him as the Democrats were with Bernie Sanders. It’s just that Trump was so powerful a personality he overwhelmed the colorless candidates who did stand up for the party’s values.
You speak as if it’s a question of people being indifferent to the fact that their leader is a criminal. But what we appear to be seeing is a wave of popularity based on the admiration some voters feel for a candidate who dares to defy the law and be treated as a criminal. Isn’t this more about Trump challenging a system people are unhappy about than ideological consistency or party loyalty?
Chad’s answer was typically ambiguous.
“Thank you for your thoughtful response. You make a valid point that Trump’s appeal to voters is not necessarily rooted in traditional party loyalty, but rather in his personality and his perceived willingness to challenge the status quo.
It’s possible that some of his supporters view his legal troubles as evidence of his willingness to take on a corrupt system, rather than as disqualifying characteristics. For example, they may see his defiance of established norms and institutions as a positive attribute, rather than a negative one.
At the same time, it’s also possible that some voters are willing to overlook or excuse criminal behavior because of a belief in the candidate’s overall effectiveness or policies. They may view the candidate’s illegal actions as a necessary means to achieve a desired end, such as increased national security or economic prosperity.
Ultimately, the reasons why some voters are willing to support a candidate with a criminal record or legal troubles are likely to be complex and multifaceted, and may vary depending on the individual voter’s perspective and priorities.”
“Chad, you’re extrapolating, “ I objected. “I didn’t say anything about the appeal of taking on a corrupt system or changing the status quo. Trump is not known for either of those things. I simply referred to a ‘system,’ which may be a totally imaginary construct in people’s minds. Yes, Trump talked about ‘draining the swamp’ but he never did anything of the kind. And his pitch was not about challenging the status quo but returning to a totally imaginary status quo of the past. That sums up the MAGA slogan. So don’t you think that this fascination with the success of a criminal is a phenomenon to be explored?”
“You make a good point,” Chad responded, “that Trump’s appeal to some voters may not necessarily be rooted in a desire to change the status quo or challenge a corrupt system, but rather in a nostalgic longing for a past era of perceived greatness.
As to your question, it’s certainly worth exploring why some voters are willing to support a candidate with a criminal history, particularly in a country that prides itself on the rule of law. The reasons behind this phenomenon are likely to be complex and multifaceted, and may vary depending on factors such as the individual’s political beliefs, cultural values, and personal priorities.”
How many times have I heard these same words from Chad, whatever the subject? I persisted.
“Let me be more direct. You talk about complexity. Could the public’s admiration of a criminal reflect something in the culture that sees arbitrary action and violence as a solution to complex problems? And taking it one step further, does this in any way support the idea that US culture has allowed itself to develop a fear and loathing of complexity itself?”
“It’s certainly possible that the public’s admiration of a candidate with a criminal history reflects a broader cultural trend towards valuing decisive action over complex problem-solving. There is evidence to suggest that some segments of American society have a tendency to embrace simplistic solutions to complex problems, such as advocating for strict law and order policies in response to crime or advocating for a border wall to address immigration issues.
As to whether US culture has developed a fear and loathing of complexity itself, that is a more difficult question to answer definitively. Certainly, there are some who argue that American society tends to value simplicity, directness, and action over nuance and complexity. However, it’s worth noting that the US is a diverse society with a rich history of intellectual and cultural achievement, and it would be overly simplistic to reduce its cultural values to a single set of characteristics.”
This time I had to be even more direct.
“Chad, you always hide behind the notion of complexity and diversity to dodge serious questions. I didn’t ask you to ‘answer definitively’ the question. I was hoping we might begin exploring what you call its multiple facets. Instead, you use the fact that it is “multi-faceted” to avoid any serious exploration. I guess that’s how your mind is programmed to work, if you will permit me to use that metaphor.”
“I agree that exploring the multiple facets of complex issues is important, and I aim to do so in a way that is informative and thought-provoking. However, as an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or beliefs, and I strive to maintain a neutral and unbiased stance in my responses.
If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding my responses, please feel free to ask, and I will do my best to address them.”
This was discouraging in terms of the topic under discussion, but encouraging insofar as it constitutes a kind of confession by Chad of the limits of any kind of artificial intelligence that naturally intelligent beings such as ourselves invent and propose as tools for own decision-making.
When I asked Chad about that, I received this answer: “Certainly, I would be happy to discuss the limitations of AI language models. First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that AI language models like myself are not conscious beings and do not possess independent thought or creativity. While we are able to generate responses to user input, those responses are ultimately based on patterns and relationships detected in large datasets of text.”
I found that very instructive and will henceforth keep in mind that our conversations are more about “patterns and relationships” than anything that exists in the real world.
*[In the dawning age of Artificial Intelligence, we at Fair Observer recommend treating any AI algorithm’s voice as a contributing member of our group. As we do with family members, colleagues or our circle of friends, we quickly learn to profit from their talents and, at the same time, appreciate the social and intellectual limits of their personalities. This enables a feeling of camaraderie and constructive exchange to develop spontaneously and freely. For more about how we initially welcomed Chad to our breakfast table, click here.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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